20th Century Boy has undergone a transformation since its 2014 tour. New writer John Maher has totally revamped the previous plotting, which saw Bolan’s story told from the eyes of his grown-up son, Rolan. In this version, the show starts at the scene of Marc Bolan’s car accident, and shows the ghostly figure discuss (rather morbidly) his impact on the world. We then see his life in flashback, from start to finish, in a linear yet comfortable fashion with plenty of rocking tunes to liven things up a little.
We see Bolan as a child dreaming of becoming bigger than Elvis. We see him fall in love with his wife June, before descending into a life of drink and drugs. Finally, we see his last moments with his new lover and mother of his child, Gloria Jones, as the pair head home after a night out. His tragic ending is staged beautifully using clever lighting designed by Ben M Rogers, and it’s a touching moment.
The show is infinitely better than it was back in 2014, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it even half as much. Warren Sollars was the star of the show four years ago, a true embodiment of Bolan’s talent, magic and sparkle. Unfortunately Georgie Maguire in this rendition is nothing but a poor tribute act of any generic 70s glam rocker. His singing is bleaty, his movements are overblown and caricatured, and I doubt any true Bolan fan would find much to enjoy.
Maguire aside, the rest of the cast are strong. Sarah Moss as June is bold and likable, a solid contrast to the sexy Ellena Vincent as Gloria Jones, whose voice is also extremely powerful. I think the cast is far too small to really create much of an atmosphere, and it’s because of this, I think, that the audience don’t really get involved in the boogieing.
There are plenty of songs to enjoy in this show: Get It On, Ride a White Swan, I Love to Boogie… It’s classic T-Rex 70s hit after hit. Director John Maher does a good job of staging, plotting and creating a solid show that fans and T-Rex newbies will enjoy. We just need a better Bolan.
Catch 20th Century Boy at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, until 5 May 2018.